Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
Iowa State, aka Transfer U, loses its top three scorers from last season's team that made a huge turnaround and surprised many by making the NCAA Tournament. Fred Hoiberg welcomes two new transfers to his Iowa State Cyclones team as the program tries to repeat its success from a year ago.
While the Cyclones lose three starters from last year's team, they welcome in a pair of transfers who are ready and capable of making a major impact. The headliner of that duo is former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious. He brings some serious experience to the floor as he helped step in for an injured Kalin Lucas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, leading the Spartans to the Final Four. Lucious will be asked to carry a ton of responsibility in his first and only season in Ames.
Former Penn State transfer Chris Babb will return to start on the wing. He is known more for his three-point shooting and defensive abilities, but will need to step up as a scorer this year to help replace Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen. Tyrus McGee served as the team's sixth man last season and will likely resume that role this year. Former walk-on Bubu Palo will compete for minutes off the bench along with freshmen Naz Long and Sherron Dorsey-Walker.
The other high impact transfer who should be a major addition on the wing is former Utah Ute Will Clyburn. He averaged 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his lone season at Utah while also proving to be a threat from downtown and more than capable defender. Nkereuwem Okoro is a physical freshman wing who could factor into the equation as well.
Up front, Hoiberg must replace the unique talent that was Royce White who did a little bit of everything for Iowa State last year. Returning starter Melvin Ejim will have to elevate his game to help fill White's shoes. Percy Gibson and Anthony Booker will compete for the starting spot in the middle. Both players were effective in limited roles last year, and it will be intriguing to see which, if either of those players can emerge as a defensive presence inside, which the Cyclones don't truly have. Freshman Georges Niang was a great recruiting get for Hoiberg and adds more strength and physicality inside, but a concern for Iowa State will be not having a true center who can protect the rim.
It is hard to imagine the Cyclones matching their success from a year ago. The pieces are still there for Iowa State to make a run at a tourney berth, but for that to happen, transfers Lucious and Clyburn must rise to the occasion in their only year in Ames.
Player to Watch: Will Clyburn, G/F
A terrific junior year at Utah earned him Second Team All-Mountain West Conference honors. It seems Clyburn has only gotten better and better since coming out of high school. If he can continue his upward climb against tougher competition in the Big XII, I wouldn't be surprised to see his name called in the NBA Draft.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/23 vs. Cincinnati (Global Sports Classic in Vegas)
11/24 vs. UNLV/Oregon (Global Sports Classic in Vegas)